FAQ: PC DVD writers

At first, general stuff:

  • [li]What is the capacity of a DVD disc?
    [/li]It is about 4,707,000,000 Bytes, i.e. 4,489 MB or 4,38 GB.
    [li]How can I determine the manufacturer of a DVD-R(W)?
    [/li]Use DVD Identifier, DVDInfoPro, ADVDInfo, cdrecord-prodvd or DVDDecryptor
    [li]How can I determine the manufacturer of a DVD+R(W)?
    [/li]Use DVD Identifier, DVDInfoPro, ADVDInfo or DVDDecryptor. I don’t know if cdrecord-prodvd can do this.
    [li]Sometimes the outer region of my DVD±R(W)s are unreadable even for the burner itself. Help!
    [/li]This can happen with bad media. Use better media.
    [li]My project is a litte bit larger than 4,489 MB. Can I overburn?
    [/li]Not at the moment.
    [li]How long does it take to burn a full 4,489 MB disc?
    [/li]1x speed: 59 min
    2x speed: 30 min
    2,4x speed: 25 min
    4x speed: 15 min
    8x speed: 8 min
    12x speed: 6 min
    16x speed: not much less than 6 min

    [li]Are there dual layer recorders?
    [/li]Yes, there are now double layer recorders available including the Liteon SOHW-832S and the NEC ND-2510A.

Now Pioneer-related stuff

  • [li]Can I write all media at 2x?
    [/li]No! There is media around that even can’t be written properly at 1x.
    The following manufacturers make 2x compatible (non-highspeed) media:
    Mitsubishi (=Verbatim),
    Mitsui,
    Maxell,
    Pioneer,
    TDK (DVR-A03: firmware 1.65 required),
    Matsushita (only DVR-A04/A05),
    Taiyo Yuden (only DVR-A04/A05)
    Sony (only DVR-A04 firmware 1.40+/A05)
    Prodisc (DVR-A05 firmware 1.21 required)

    CMC is on the list as well, but I don’t know why.

    Support for Ritek at 2x (which has been introduced in 1.31 for DVR-A04) has been removed in 1.32, probably because of unreliable burns.
    No other media will be written at 2x. Some programs always offer 2x speed, but the writer will ignore this setting if there is no 2x compatible media inserted!
    There are hacked firmwares available to enable 2x for all media, but you use that on your own risk!
    [li]Why does Nero only show 1x speed?
    [/li]Because you have not inserted 2x compatible media. Note that firmwares 1.90 / 1.33 and earlier show 1x of no disc at all is inserted, while 2.00 / 1.40 show 2x if no disc is inserted.
    [li]Has 2x writing speed lower quality than 1x speed?
    [/li]Usually it should not. Pioneer only allows 2x writing for media that they are satisfied with. However, there have been reports that some players reject 2x written media, but play the same media if it has been written at 1x, and there is also the possibility of getting bad batches of 2x compatible media, which might then not be reliable.
    You will have to try and find out on your own.
    [li]Can I bypass the media check?
    [/li]Not with official firmware. There is a “modified” firmware available which allows 2x writing to all discs, but you use that on your own risk. Don’t complain if you get coasters then. You were the one to install it.
    [li]I get write errors, “communication failure”, system crashed while writing a DVD, verification errors or other weird errors. help!
    [/li]There’s a bug in the firmware of DVR-A03/A04 which sometimes causes these errors if you run it in DMA mode. You must set it to PIO then.
    [li]I bought 2x certified media, but my DVR-A03 only writes it at 1x. Help!
    [/li]First possible reason: You use media that only the DVR-A04 can write at 2x speed. Second possible reason: There is so-called “2x”-media around which even the A04 can’t recognise as 2x compatible. Then you should have a talk with your vendor.
    [li]The windows firmware loader doesn’t work…
    [/li]I have the DOS loader for DVR-A03 delivered with firmware 1.68 here. Boot into DOS mode and upgrade there. I used it to upgrade to 1.90 and it worked fine. Unlike what Pioneer claims, this loader can also downgrade. Note that this loader does not work if firmware 1.90 is installed. Pioneer seems to intentionally prohibit its use if firmware 1.90 is installed.
    [li]Can Pioneer DVR-A03/A04 write to low quality discs properly?
    [/li]No. Such discs can give bad burns, power-calibration-errors, medium-write-errors, completely unreadable discs, discs skipping in many players etc etc.
    [li]Can I downgrade firmware?
    [/li]Update
    DVRFlash allows downgrading and flashing any firmware that you’d like.

    For DVR-A03, firmare 1.90: Get the DOS-loader and firmware file here. You must then boot ms-dos or win 98 dos prompt in order to install it. This seems to work only if 1.80 or earlier is installed. If you want to downgrade from 1.90 to 1.68, then rename your r3100101.168 to r3100101.191, download this, boot to dos and execute upgdvd.exe
    For DVR-A03, with firmare 2.00 (should also work with older ones) (/BEGIN posted by Antonio S. on Doom9):
    1 - Download Pioneer firmware 2.0
    2 - Remove installer (UPGDVD.exe) and place it in a folder with the firmware that you want to use to downgrade the firmware of your burner.
    3 - Make a shortcut of UPGDVD.exe to your desktop
    4 - Rightclick your new created shortcut. Go to properties and change the target from …/ UPGDVD.exe to …/UPGDVD.exe /F
    (carefully check the space after “.exe”, and the letter “F” must be a capital letter).
    5 - Double click your shortcut. Wait until process is DONE!
    /END posted by Antonio S.


    [li]Can bad-flashed drives be repaired?
    [/li]The user jaay did a successful bad-flash-recovery with a DVR-A03 here using the DOS loader. I doubt that this works if firmware 1.90+ was installed before the bad flash. [sarcasm] Thank you, Pioneer! [/sarcasm]
    [li]Can Pioneer DVR-A03/A04 write the new 4x media at 2x speed?
    [/li]Firmwares up to (1.90/1.33) support only 1x writing on these media, earlier firmwares must not be used at all on 4x DVD-R media or 2x DVD-RW media. Latest firmwares (2.00/1.40) allow 2x speed for highspeed dvd-r.
    [li]Is it necessary to format a dvd-rw disc before burning?
    [/li]Usually not. This should be required only for some bad media which gives bad burns otherwise. However, if a disc is not recognised by some players, you can try a full erase and reburn the disc.
    [li]What about heat?
    [/li]Pioneer DVR-A03/A04 consume about 20W, which is more than most other burners. Make sure that there is no drive mounted directly beneath the Pioneer DVD burner. Installing an extra fan is not a bad idea either.
    [li]But Ritek burns fine at 2x…
    [/li]Use KProbe to check write quality using a LiteOn DVD-ROM. Let’s see if you then still say that they burn fine at 2x…
    [li]What about burning CDs…
    [/li]DVR-A03/A04: CloneCD does not work at all with them
    DVR-A05: No-sheep writer, but works with CloneCD otherwise

The DVD+R(W) writers I know do not show any very special behaviour which would require an own section (i.e. they do not show DMA bugs, behave like cooking plates, etc etc). This could change of course…

The Sony DRU500A will also require an extra section which will be set up.

To avoid that this thread grows endlessly, as the LiteOn-FAQ, it will stay closed. If you want to comment on it, if you find errors, incomplete points, or have questions, please open a new thread.